Links for 2011-01-24

  • "'It's one of the last remaining challenges known to science and we've cracked it at last,' said lead researcher, Professor Kenneth Libbrecht. 'The team will soon disband to pursue other major scientific challenges, such as the unresolved toast-butter conundrum, and whether or not my baldness makes me a better lover.'"
  • "Groups of four college students were organized into teams and given a task to complete some basic management decisions in 45 minutes. To motivate the teams, they're told that whichever team performs best will be awarded $100 per person. What they don't know, however, is that in some of the groups, the fourth member of their team isn't a student. He's an actor hired to play a bad apple, one of these personality types:
    [...]
    The conventional wisdom in the research on this sort of thing is that none of this should have had much effect on the group at all. Groups are powerful. Group dynamics are powerful. And so groups dominate individuals, not the other way around. There's tons of research, going back decades, demonstrating that people conform to group values and norms.
    But Will found the opposite."
  • "A remarkable feature of cities (so remarkable that it sometimes goes unsaid) is that they are marvellously effective at creating unexpected phenomena. At the most mechanistic level, urban places work because they allow programmed activities to occur - business meetings and concerts for example - which are only possible because a large enough number of people are close enough to places of common assembly - meeting rooms and concert halls. However, at an even higher level, cities work because they bring people into seemingly random encounter with other people, places and objects that spark unplanned events over and above the programmer ones. Such unplanned encounters are the sparks of innovation, learning and cultural development, which are in turn the essence of humanity."
  • "Packing all of your belongings into a U-Haul and then transporting them across several states is nearly as stressful and futile as trying to run away from lava in swim fins.  

    I know this because my boyfriend Duncan and I moved from Montana to Oregon last month.  But as harrowing as the move was for us, it was nothing compared to the confusion and insecurity our two dogs had to endure.  

    Our first dog is - to put it delicately - simple-minded.  Our other dog is a neurotic German shepherd mix with agonizingly low self-esteem who has taken on the role of "helper dog" for our simple dog.  Neither dog is well-equipped with coping mechanisms of any kind. "

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The conventional wisdom in the research on this sort of thing is that none of this should have had much effect on the group at all.

It's easy to say this after have read the article, but... what conventional wisdom was this, now? Have these people never sat through a meeting with an asshole? Have these people never been in a USENET newsgroup with a troll or two?

By John Novak (not verified) on 24 Jan 2011 #permalink